Described by Charles Darwin as “the greatest scientific traveler to ever live,” Alexander Von Humboldt’s travels, experiments and knowledge transformed western science in the 19th century. In 1802, he mapped over 1700 miles of the Orinoco River, and then went on to attempt a climb of a volcano in Ecuador called Mt. Chimborazo — at the time, thought to be the tallest mountain in the world at 21,000 ft. It was this volcano that came to mind during the Civil War, as he viewed the hill he named Chimborazo Hill. One of the most efficient and active military hospitals of the Civil War, named, of course, Chimborazo Hospital, spanned the top of that hill. The photo below shows Chimborazo Hill in 1861, with the hospital on top. (Library of Congress)
In 1902, a school, named for Chimborazo Park, was built at the corner of Marshall and 33rd Streets in historic Church Hill. It served grades 1 - 7 in eight classrooms until 1911 when an annex was opened, adding classrooms and an auditorium. It was “considered to be handsome and well-arranged, embodying the most advanced ideas in sanitation, heating, ventilation, seating and school architecture,” according to the Richmond Public Schools history of the building. It ceased to be used as a school in 1968 when the new Chimborazo School opened.